Monday, November 22, 2010

Tidal power: an update.

Compared to wind and solar, tidal power is still regarded as a renewable energy technology that remains unviable on a large scale. But throw together climate change, political will in the UK and the US, entrepreneurial enthusiasm and academic research - with some significant investment - and a new mood of optimism is starting to pervade the sector.

Tidal current power, sometimes called tidal stream power, is the process of converting the kinetic energy of the tide – whether in tidal rivers (think London's Thames or New York's East River), streams or ocean waters, into useable power in the form of electricity.

The process typically involves an underwater turbine, and a plethora of devices are being developed – some in rivers or streams and others offshore. While a few technologies are past the testing stage and now feeding the grid, no company in the world has actually reached the commercial stage, delivering “proven technology”.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Rice husks help electrify India and fight poverty.

Half the population of the Indian state of Bihar lives below the poverty line, including, until now, having no access to any type of energy. "Empowering Bihar" is the title of a new Greenpeace India report showing how renewable energy, particularly biomass and solar, can promote social and economic development through a decentralised power generation system.

Husk Power Systems is the name of the initiative that supplies electricity to a population spread across 125 villages in Bihar. It is one of two projects that Greenpeace India recently unveiled to the press, outlined in the report “Empowering Bihar”. Both demonstrate the importance of decentralised renewable energy systems. The other project involves various solar installations at the Tripolia Social Service Hospital, an entity that performs an important role in medical and health care.

Gyanesh Pandey and Ratnesh Kumar, two young entrepreneurs, are the brains behind Husk Power Systems, which comprises a network of 35 small plants producing electricity from biomass gasification using rice husks. The electricity is then distributed through small networks to the 125 villages for at least six hours a day. Until now, these settlements had no electricity or only enjoyed very limited access (four hours maximum) at high costs because the power was generated using diesel and kerosene.

European union unveils new one trillion euro energy strategy.

The European Commission has sent an unprecedentedly clear warning to the EU member states that without strong new policy initiatives the EU's existing energy and climate strategy is unlikely to achieve the 2020 targets, and it is wholly inadequate to the longer term challenges concerning energy and climate-change objectives. To deal with this, the Commission is proposing to spend €1 trillion over the next decade on infrastructure, new technologies and electricity storage, as part of a new energy strategy to deliver on the EU's 2020 energy and climate goals.

'In the next decade, investment in energy, both to replace existing resources and in order to meet increasing energy requirements, will oblige European economies to arbitrate among energy products which, given the inertia of energy systems, will condition the next 30 years,' it says.

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Global Biofuel Alliance formed.

The Global Biofuels Alliance has officially launched. The nonprofit organization will work to “give a voice to the producers, traders, feedstock providers, and equipment manufacturers of the emerging biofuel industry.” Made up of ten founding members from various energy sectors including energy trading companies, start-up biodiesel companies and large biodiesel production facilities, the alliance has already set its sights on the hottest topic in the biodiesel industry. “The biodiesel tax credit is a key agenda,” said Wade Randlett, a founding board member of the alliance and cofounder of Enagra Holdings LLC, a holding company for renewable energy projects worldwide. “Although it’s a bit broader than that. I think having some form of longer term incentive for any kind of a renewable diesel, regardless of the feedstock, the source or the technology is important.”